by Andrew Jones
Church Will Revisit 1930s
I think the next decade of 2010 to 2020 will involve a revisiting of the 1930s, especially in relation to church and mission.
The church in the West will use up much of this coming decade to rebound from the financial recession and to restructure in a more sustainable way, much like the church did in the 1930s after the Great Recession, which started around 1929. As a response to the financial bruising on the Western church system (church, seminary, publishing, para-church, conference – all of which are co-dependent and therefore suffering together), new forms of Christian-based co-operative structures will emerge, as they did with Toyohiko Kagawa in 1930s Japan.
I wrote in 1999 that the next decade would see young people turn old church buildings into art lounges. That happened. But in this new decade, many of these new art lounges, recording studios, coffee houses, craft spaces and new media labs will move to a deeper level of involvement and empowerment.
In the next decade, a stronger business sense will inform these new forms, as well as assist the new monastic communities and traditional churches in general. In a concerted effort to get church ministry on a solid financial footing, or to start new ministries with a diminished budget, many traditional churches will offer their buildings mid-week as micro-business enterprise labs and will become micro-credit unions for their local communities. The word “fellowship” will regain its meaning of sharing and risk-taking. Emerging church energies will be redirected from creative worship arts to creative social enterprises which will enable long term sustainability. In both realms, women will come to the front as some of the most successful missional entrepreneurs.
Writings from 1930s theologians Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer will continue in their popularity (no-brainer), but we will also revisit Dorothy Day (U.S.A.) and Dorothy Sayers (U.K.).
Having already “re-traditioned” and “re-sourced” our theological and missiological base for church and mission, we will feel more confident to launch out further into the world with transformational models that will change the world without draining the next generation’s resources. The next decade will be a time of sustainable outreach, measurable by a far more holistic criteria of success (The Transformational Index*), and we will find helpful and surprising precedents as in the 1930s.
But then again, I am not a prophet and I could be horribly and embarrassingly wrong!
Andrew Jones is an international missiologist and blogger.
*While assessment tools have been devised to ascertain if a social enterprise is socially transformative, environmentally responsible, and economically self-sustainable, social entrepreneurs haven’t discussed the spiritual sustainability of these ventures. To address the gap, Shannon Hopkins, Brad Sargent, Andy Schofield and other missionals are working on the Transformational Index: a social accounting system to monitor a project’s impact and determine whether the venture also brings about spiritual renewal and reconciliation. Check the Transformational Index website for updates.